This film is part of Free

G.Men At War

Microfilm, fifth columnists and special agents: this dramatic reconstruction of an undercover operation against Nazi spies shows J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI fighting the enemy within.

Documentary 1942 20 mins


The centrepiece of this March of Time film is the dramatised sequence showing the FBI infiltration of a group of American Nazis, whose espionage and sabotage operations are run from the backroom of a local restaurant. The film’s message - that the FBI is more than a match for German spies - is reinforced by the focus on new techniques such as covert filming and forensic evidence analysis, helped by an army of administrative staff working alongside the Bureau’s 4,500 special agents.

March of Time producer Louis De Rochement was an admirer of J. Edgar Hoover and this film emphasises the view that the FBI Director himself was directly responsible for the organisation’s success. Hoover put in place the necessary structure in which the Special Agents could flourish and new techniques of counterintelligence could be developed. By way of contrast, the villain of the piece, German American Bund leader Fritz Kuhn, was the embodiment of the Nazi threat inside the USA. Although Kuhn was in jail when this film was shown - he was imprisoned on charges of embezzlement in December 1939 - his presence as leader still presented a threat and, even behind bars, he remained a focus for American Nazi activity.